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Monday, April 11 2011

As my agent prepares to pitch my book in the coming weeks, she asked for one last thing: a mini-proposal. No problem, I can do that. One question. What's a mini-proposal? Aren't those for nonfiction manuscripts? (Okay, two questions)

Luckily, my agent listed out the four items I needed to include: an author bio, a media page, a complementary book list, and a synopsis.

I'd already written an author bio for my last book, so I could check that off the list immediately. One down, three to go.

Creating a list of all my media contacts made me break out in nervous laughter. Media contacts? What media contacts? But I am a member of the LadyKillers blog (, thank goodness. And Penny Warner, being the sweet person that she is, offered to promote the book in her newspaper column. Okay, so not the longest media list in the world, but it's definitely a good start.

Now for the complementary books. I needed to list cozy mysteries that were similar to my own and mention why mine was better, without insulting the other books, of course. And books published within the last five or six years were best. This proved to be a bit of a challenge. Every book I thought of had been published at least ten years ago, some even twenty! And I didn't have time to locate books that fit the criteria and read them. Fortunately, I remembered a 2008 cozy mystery with a landscaping theme (Weeding Out Trouble) that I had thoroughly enjoyed. For the others, I had to rely on a little research, which pretty much entailed my reading Amazon reviews and book excerpts.

That left the synopsis, which proved to be the hardest item on the list. I'd already created a synopsis, but this one needed to be brief, no more than five pages, and mine was a solid seven. So I tinkered and trimmed and still couldn't get it down under six pages. Not with so many important points to mention! Surely I needed to talk about the note on the nightstand that requested the murder victim meet someone behind the chicken coop for a tryst. And Tiffany's big role in Octogiant Meets King Crab. And the cook's fish-granule-coated tofu sticks that made the spa guests gag. These were all crucial to the plot. Okay, that's not entirely true. But one of the struggles of creating a great synopsis is showing an editor/agent/publisher that the book follows the traditional cozy format but still contains unique and interesting aspects. I have to convince them that I know how to write a book that will be familiar enough to the readers to make them comfortable but fresh enough that they're not disappointed. And all in five pages or less. I finally managed to cut the synopsis down to the required length, but I sure hope I didn't cut anything critical.

Guess I'll find out soon. My agent signed off on the mini-proposal and is getting ready to pitch. The waiting has begun. Again.

Posted by: Staci McLaughlin AT 04:34 pm   |  Permalink   |  0 Comments  |  Email

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